Sai Varshith Kandula, a 19-year-old resident of suburban St. Louis, recently had his initial court hearing following an incident where he reportedly crashed into a barrier. During his interaction with officials, he made disturbing statements expressing admiration for Nazis and expressing a desire to “seize power.”
On Wednesday, authorities confirmed that the man accused of ramming a U-Haul truck into barriers near the White House earlier in the week is not a U.S. citizen. Sai Varshith Kandula, a 19-year-old from suburban St. Louis, appeared in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit. Initially, a government prosecutor stated that Kandula was neither a citizen nor a lawful permanent resident, but later, a Department of Justice official clarified that he holds a green card for lawful permanent U.S. residency. The suspect’s national origin was not mentioned during the court proceedings.
A fellow college student, who was on the same high school track team as Kandula, mentioned that they both belong to the significant Indian American community in Chesterfield, Missouri.
During his court appearance, Kandula answered basic questions from Magistrate Judge Robin Meriweather, confirming his name and understanding of the proceedings. His defense lawyer, Diane Shrewsbury, requested a new pair of glasses for him, as his original spectacles had been taken away upon his arrest, causing vision difficulties. Judge Meriweather assured that the issue would be addressed.
Kandula was ordered to be held without bail until at least his next court date, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.When approached by reporters, Shrewsbury stated that she was unable to comment on the case, as she had only met Kandula for the first time moments earlier.
When approached by reporters, Shrewsbury stated that she was unable to comment on the case, as she had only met Kandula for the first time moments earlier.
According to officials, the young man from suburban St. Louis has allegedly expressed admiration for Nazis and had aspirations of “seizing power” following his U-Haul crash.
Kandula stands accused of renting a U-Haul truck from Dulles International Airport and subsequently crashing it into a barrier on the north side of the White House at approximately 9:35 p.m. ET on Monday.
A witness captured a video showing the U-Haul’s driver reversing the 26-foot-long vehicle before mounting the curb and crashing into barriers on the sidewalk.
During law enforcement interviews following the incident, Kandula allegedly expressed admiration for the Nazis, praising their “great history” and endorsing their “authoritarian nature, Eugenics, and one world order,” as stated in the criminal complaint filed against him.
Although President Joe Biden was present in the White House during the incident, the administration has not disclosed whether he was informed about the crash as it was happening.
The White House confirmed that President Biden received a comprehensive briefing on the matter Tuesday morning from the Secret Service and Park Police.
AP News / Washington DC